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SheBelieves preview: USWNT v. Argentina

The SheBelieves finale is here, and it pits the team on top of the table against the one on the bottom. Better still, the USWNT will know by kickoff tonight exactly what is needed to ensure a win (it won’t be much either way).

Catch the game at 6 p.m. CST on FS1 and TUDN, and don’t forget to join the AO Nashville virtual watch party.

The competition

With a win over Brazil, the Americans have a firm hold on the trophy heading into this afternoon:

TeamPointsGoal DifferentialStill to play
SheBelieves 2021 – Through Matchdate 2

The Americans can seal a win with only a draw against Argentina, and given that Brazil and Canada square off at 3p.m. CST, the possible outcomes with each result will be known. If the seleção and the Maple Leafs draw, the United States will kick off the contest knowing the competition is won.

If there’s a result in the matinee, the US will likely be able to lose to Argentina and still win, as long as the margin is slim. Of course, there’s a reason Argentina doesn’t have a point in the table yet, so a USWNT loss – even with as experimental a lineup as could be possible – is essentially out of the realm of possibility.

La Albiceleste

The United States will have a player on the verge of 300 caps for her country tonight (an appearance would put Carli Lloyd at 299), and seven others have over 100 appearances for the Nats. Argentina? Their most-capped player in the competition entered it with just 51. The US is the most-successful, evil-empire-est team in international soccer. Argentina… has been struggling for years to get even a fraction of the support that the men get from their federation.

This is a true Goliath v. David scenario.

Given the difference in the positions of the respective teams, it should come as no surprise that Argentina is more trying to make strides toward global respectability than coming out guns-blazing. They’ve had essentially a complete line change between their previous two games, with the consistent personnel as follows:

  • CB Augustina Barrosa
  • CB Aldana Cometti
  • M Clarissa Huber
  • M Vanessa Santana
  • M Lorena Benítez
  • F Soledad Jaimes
  • F Yamila Rodriguez

That’s inconsistency at keeper, fullback, and one midfield slot. Every bench player has also seen the pitch; manager Carlos Borrello is using this competition as a litmus test against top competition, and seeing who among his players can sink or swim.

The Nats

We’ve already seen most of what I wanted, personally: a starting appearance (and a fairly long one) from Alex Morgan, a bit of experimentation, seeing how Catarina Macario fits into the lineup with most of a full-strength group, and of course two shutouts.

Argentina should be weak enough that we get a bit of experimentation from manager Vlatko Andonovski. Crystal Dunn up top is hardly re-inventing the wheel (she’s played there regularly in her career), but it does force a little bit of shuffling to adequately fill the left back spot she would abandon by moving forward. A keeper other than Alyssa Naeher between the pipes? I think it’s probably time, when even a mistake of inexperience probably sees the US score enough on the other end to make up for it (and of course, the Brazil/Canada result could render that moot, anyway).

At the risk of too much experimentation, I’d like to see as many of the college kid (Florida State’s Jaelin Howell) as possible, especially since she has yet to see the field in this one. Tierna Davidson, Jane Campbell, and Casey Murphy have also not played through two games. I’m not sayin’ start them. But let’s see if they can get onto the pitch.

It’s depth-buildin’ time, particularly if Vlatko goes with a strong starting lineup and an early lead is possible.

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